By Peter McNamara
It’s funny, that in a day and age where pace and power are king new Cork manager Peadar Healy intends to zone in on the development of the skill-sets of the Leesiders in 2016.
Healy, of course, has sampled the Kerry football line of thinking first-hand while overseeing affairs in Killarney with Dr Croke’s.
Perfecting the skills of the game has always been paramount in the Kingdom, at every level. Now, the Naomh Abán clubman is angling towards implementing a similar mind-set with the Rebels.
“The emphasis is on the skill-set in Kerry, and I would hope to be bringing that to Cork,” said Healy at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday. “From under-age levels through to senior level, it’s really important.
“You’d notice the differences being involved with teams in Cork and Kerry.
“O’Donovan Rossa play a possession game, (Dr) Croke’s play a kicking game. It’s something I would very conscious of and hope to bring some of that with me.
“You need to adapt to play against different styles and gameplans that we will come up against. That’s a big challenge in itself for us.”
A big challenge indeed…
Healy spoke in the conservative manner you would expect of a new boss at senior inter-county grade.
Yet, it was intriguing to hear the Garda navigate towards the importance of the skills of the code when such assets seem to be playing second-fiddle to blistering speed and strength.
Presently, it is player dynamism that trumps all other qualities.
You could have all the skills in the world but if you don’t possess the brutally fast pace to match you’re still at a disadvantage. Or so we are led to believe.
Still, Healy must feel the Cork players already possess the individual and collective dynamism needed to even survive at the top table.
It’s almost as if sharpening their skills will be the icing on the cake.
“We’ve very talented players, and my over-riding aim would be to create a high-performance environment for these players, that we get the skill-set and the mind-set right, and put in place the type of structures to facilitate the development of the Cork players.
“As the manager I owe them that. I want what’s best for Cork football and any player that wears the (Cork) jersey.”
It’s interesting too that Healy used the phrase ‘to facilitate the development of the Cork players’. Brian Cuthbert, if you recall, was also keen to illustrate a like-minded approach when he stepped into the role. Jim Gavin, too, has referred to himself in a similar fashion in the capital.
With that in mind, Healy is probably on the right track as with Conor McCarthy on board the physiological side of the game will surely also fall into place.
“I am looking forward to working with a talented bunch of players, and that’s where I will be most comfortable working — on the pitch. We haven’t had a players meeting yet, we will sit down and talk to them, but I will be introducing new players to the set-up.
“There was three minutes to go below in Killarney in the Munster final last July with Cork winning, and Brian Cuthbert’s season could have gone a very different direction.
Kerry finished up in the All-Ireland final. I’m not saying Cork would, but the margins are small. We are not that far away, he added.
He definitely has a point. Cork are not as far away as some people think.
Nevertheless, the Rebels, at best, would be vying for the fourth Champions League spot if this was the Premier League and not the title.
Dublin, Kerry and Mayo tick just a few more boxes than Cork for now.
Still, Healy obviously foresees himself as the man with the managerial attributes required to ensure Cork tick those empty boxes. And he deserves the county’s full backing in trying to realise such targets in the seasons ahead.
Whether or not he gets that support remains to be seen.
After all, we all know only too well how fickle fans on Leeside can be when it comes to following their sporting representatives.
Still, Healy and co can look to 2016 with cautious optimism.